Ukraine’s Zelenskyy names ground forces commander as new army leader

Kyiv, Ukraine –

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with Ukraine’s top general on Thursday and told him it is time for someone new to lead the military in what amounts to a major shake-up of Ukraine’s war strategy.

In a post on “The time has come for such renewal,” Zelenskyy said.

Zelenskyy says he has appointed Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, to lead the army. Syrskyi, 58, has been involved since 2013 in the Ukrainian military’s efforts to adopt NATO standards.

Zaluzhnyi, in a Telegram message, did not announce his resignation, but said he accepted that “everyone must change and adapt to new realities” and agreed that there is a “need to change approaches and strategy” in war.

The statement came after days of speculation spurred by local media reports that Zelenskyy would fire Zaluzhnyi, a move that would amount to the most serious shake-up of the military’s top brass since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces claimed to have shot down a Russian attack helicopter in eastern Ukraine near the town of Avdiivka, where soldiers are fighting street to street as the Russian military intensifies its four-month campaign to encircle troops. defenders of Kiev.

Ukrainian soldiers used a man-portable anti-aircraft missile to shoot down the Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopter, one of the Russian air force’s deadliest weapons, according to Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, commander of Ukrainian units fighting on the southeastern front.

The roughly 1,500-kilometer (930-mile) contact line has changed little during recent months of winter weather. But as the war in Ukraine approaches its second anniversary, Avdiivka has become “a major focus” of Moscow’s forces, the UK Ministry of Defense said in an assessment on Thursday.

Street-to-street fighting is taking place in the city as Ukrainian troops try to keep their main supply route open amid intense shelling, the ministry said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces reported Thursday that its troops had repulsed 40 enemy attacks around Avdiivka over the previous 24 hours. This is approximately double the number of daily Russian attacks at other points along the front line.

Russian newspaper Pravda reported Thursday that the Russian military was attempting to cut off a key logistics supply route to Ukraine in the village of Lastochkyne, about six kilometers (four miles) west of Avdiivka.

The Russian military has used electronic warfare to destroy the Starlink communications system that Ukrainian troops use to communicate, Pravda said.

Ukraine has built multiple defenses at Avdiivka, with concrete fortifications and a network of tunnels. Despite huge losses in personnel and equipment, Russian troops have advanced slowly since October.

The fight has become a gruesome endeavor for both sides. It has been compared to the nine months of fighting for Bakhmut, the longest and bloodiest battle of the Ukrainian war. It ended with Russia’s capture of the deserted and bombed-out city last May, in what Moscow hailed as a major triumph.

Both Bakhmut and Avdiivka are located in the Donetsk region of Ukraine. Moscow-backed rebels seized part of the region in 2014 and Russia illegally annexed it all in 2022 along with three other Ukrainian regions.

Russia wants to capture the entire Donetsk region, where it currently owns just over half of the territory.

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